5 Tips for Avoiding Pathological Narcissists

| Staff Writers

Five Ways to Sidestep the Cycle of Narcissism

  • Observation
  • Do not subsume annoyance
  • Stay Focused
  • Avoid Emotional Engagement
  • Sense of Humor

It’s essential to differentiate standard human vanity and even self-value or empowerment from the behaviors of a pathological narcissist. The former occurs to varying degrees in everyone, irrespective of age, culture, educational background, and other factors. The latter is a mental disorder also called Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is not normal. While cultural values may render it more difficult to determine whether a co-worker, family member or potential romantic partner is a legitimate narcissist, there are ways to identify and avoid the repercussions of intimacy with the behavioral disorder.

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1. Observation is Key

In most Western cultures, it can be difficult to determine whether an individual suffers from NPD or is merely displaying culturally valued traits of confidence and proactivity. That renders them difficult to avoid entirely, especially in professional or romantic realms. However, by observing how a suspected narcissist treats others around them, one can avoid the hassle of being deeply entangled with them.

Narcissists, whether of the Vulnerable or Grandiose type, thrive on being perceived as better than everyone else. They will put others down, focus on criticism rather than support of others, and even actively sabotage the progress of friends, coworkers, and partners. In the end, they may talk the talk, but those who take them for their word are usually disappointed and ignored by these clever social manipulators.

2. Honor Annoyance

One of the biggest pitfalls many encounter when dealing with a narcissistic personality is ignoring their emotional responses. This essentially declares that irritation at being steamrolled or disappointment with unfulfilled promises is less important than the emotions of the narcissist. Over time, frustration builds and can result in explosive outcomes that are useful for the narcissist in question. Honor emotional responses such as irritation, disappointment, and frustration. Look at them carefully and never sweep them under the rug.

3. Stay Focused

Whether in a personal or professional capacity, one main tactic of narcissists is to sabotage projects and distract others from attaining their goals. According to an article in Psychology Today, it’s vital to maintain focus on personal progress. It isn’t necessary to give credence and attention to everything a narcissistic individual says or does, especially when essential deadlines and tasks are at stake. Acknowledging their statements in a surface capacity is often the best tactic for allaying any negative repercussions.

4. Avoid Emotional Engagement

This may be one of the more difficult points to observe. Whether with a Vulnerable or Grandiose narcissist, emotional involvement is the key to their manipulative power. In personal relationships, they may often use promises or paint rosy pictures of the future to secure a partner’s complicity in their emotional disappointment. At the office, irritation and disparagement are frequent weapons, because they encourage devotion of emotional energy away from necessary tasks and draw attention to them. By not feeding this need and enforcing an emotional distance, individuals can protect themselves and their personal or professional trajectories.

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5. Maintain a Sense of Humor

Suffering, anger, and other adverse emotional responses are fodder for the narcissist. They become deeply frustrated when their attacks and attempts to sabotage or devalue others meet with laughter or merely a lack of acknowledgment. This is one of the most effective ways to discourage a narcissist’s close and personal attention in any sphere because it presents less of a target. A distinctly phlegmatic or unconcerned response signals that the individual does not represent a source of emotional reinforcement or external validation of the need a pathological narcissist feels to be superior.

While it’s not always possible to entirely avoid individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it is possible to prevent becoming sources of emotional energy for them. Whether dealing with the insecure Vulnerable specimen or skirting the all-consuming radiation of a Grandiose type of pathological narcissist, using tactics to maintain emotional distance and autonomy prove highly effective.

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